Meditation means many different things to many people, especially when they articulate it into their language. For some it may mean spacing out with no thought, venturing into spaces of light and bliss, and entering into trance states or pure escapism. If these are actually used in the path to understand our own mind and how this “I” is functioning, then meditation can really be of benefit. This “I” being this ego we idenitify with, its grasping/clinging and fabricating being its ways of functioning.
Meditation aims at producing a state of mental health, tranquility and equilibrium. The meditation common to most schools is silent (calm abiding) meditation. Sitting on the floor or on a chair is best. Being comfortable is important, with a straight spine, the head resting slightly forward and eyes slightly open.
So we just sit and be aware of the breath. Aware of the in-breath, the out-breath and rhythm.
When we begin meditation we discover our minds are a never ending avalanche of thoughts. Sometimes we just have to sit this through, other times we can try to put lots of energy into these thoughts so we exhaust the mind. But with gentle perseverance, spaces appear between the thoughts.
It’s in these spaces a deeper awareness arises (whether we are in a formal sitting meditation or in our daily life) that we can begin to understand our mind. We can understand and feel when this grasping “I” arises in a very clear way. Sometimes we see that we can be very unrealistic with our demands, hopes and expectations. Through practice we can quickly remedy the situation by letting them go whenever we see (our grasping egos) ridiculous nature. And just in a simple way our lives can be more in balance, more relaxed and happier.
Meditation can help us in a very simple way with our uncontrolled thoughts and emotion as we get the ability to observe our mind. When we are lost in anger and if we can simply observe, we may find ourselves ashamed and the anger will subside, or we may be able to become aware of “its totally empty nature” and find ourselves able to transform that energy into compassion for ourselves and/or the object of that anger. Of course on rare occasions anger is necessary, and with meditation the manifestation of anger can become an act of compassion.
Meditation is a path out of our unease, a path to discover our own true nature. Our true nature has many descriptions: at one with God, primordial awareness perfected in the naturally luminous intrinsic knowledge of the here and now, spontaneous lucid presence of self-knowing awareness, arriving at home, naturally occurring timeless awareness beyond duality: everyone may of had a glimpse to some degree of their own deep awareness. An experience of deep joy/bliss with a spacious lucid mind where everything appears of vibrating light, usually through viewing landscapes and nature, sexual intercourse, hallucinogens, childbirth, extreme sports or pure giving. Most of us have had some experience in this way but we do not recognize it as such as being closer to our own true nature. We do not recognize our own state of unease.
Honesty with ourselves is one aspect very much needed in our practice. The nature of the “I” or ego is always to manipulate the way it sees itself and the world around. It does it to secure its own adornment or frolic in its own self-pity or whatever. With meditation we gain space in our mind and with that, we have the ability to observe. To observe this “I”, thoughts and emotion, where they come from, how they are existing and where they go to. Meditation will help us become aware of this “grasping nature of the I” and with it the ability to let it go. Then slowly we find ourselves resting in a deeper awareness rather than being tossed around in the mental habits and patterns surrounding this “I”. We need to be like a scientist to observe and not a judge to criticize or opinionate.
There are many different schools and lineages of meditation. Within the Buddhists schools there are:
- Pure land
Within them there are different lineages and emphases. There are the Maha-Siddha traditions from India, meditations from Sufism, Judaism and Christianity. Somehow we have to find what we connect with and what works for us. Finding a proven lineage that has stood the test of time with a stream of enlightened practitioners can give us great confidence in its methods.
We have to continually check ourselves to make sure we are not on some ego-gratifying trip. Especially if we are looking into following the Maha-Siddhi-Guru Traditions we have to really check up, be alert, be aware and follow our gut feeling rather than just blindly following a teacher. Only once we are satisfied with the pure intention of the teacher, should we enter into a deeper relationship with that teacher. At the same time we have to be careful not to pre-judge methods which may seem strange or foreign. Only when we have some experience of our own enlightened wisdom mind can we really appreciate methods of symbolic alchemy and the transformative powers of visualization.
To all travellers on the road to Shambhala who have ventured onto this page, I hope some clarity rather than confusion has arisen. May we all awaken from the “Matrix”, the grasping and duality we are entranced by.